I first landed in Los Angeles in 1987 (I was 21 years old). I had long hair, wore suit jackets with the sleeves pushed up, sometimes a bandana in my hair and little round John Lennon type shades. I played in numerous bands – most of them really bad – and lived my life toting around my keyboards from gig to gig in my beat up Toyota Celica. Drummers and keyboardists can relate – our jobs begin and end way after the guitarist, bassist and singer are sitting at the bar.
Oh, and I had a day job. I worked as a “marketing specialist” (e.g. receptionist) at a small defense department sub-contractor that made devices that tested military equipment to make sure they could withstand the electromagnetic pulse of a thermonuclear weapon. Yes, really.
I was, like most young passionate kids, really a musician (then subsequently a screenwriter but that’s another story), and I had a “day job” that I hated. Today, I have a day job that I love – and a good part of it is working with Joe Pulizzi and our whole gang at CMI. He’s celebrating five years in business and we have a special giveaway - but I’ll get to that in a minute.
I’m sure you too know and love the term “Day Job.” You know, it’s the thing we have to do in order to get to do the thing that we want to do.
Mastering The Function – Not The Form
Lately as I’ve been working with companies both large and small on their marketing strategies – I’ve been excited to witness the marketing department in transition. We all intuitively know this – but it’s one of those things where sometimes change happens so slowly that we don’t notice that our world has completely transformed around us. There’s a wonderful quote from 2004 that Joe and I use in our book Managing Content Marketing that says:
“none of the top 10 jobs that will exist in 2010 exist today [in 2004]. This may possibly be the first time in history when college graduates are taking jobs in categories that didn’t even exist when they first entered school”
Well guess what – that applies to us as well. The marketing job FORM for which we were hired five years ago is almost assuredly different than what we actually do today. But here’s the thing – the FUNCTION isn’t!
More often than not, when I ask my new client what their “story is” within the organization – almost inevitably their answer is: “well my day job is to manage ABC part of the XYZ process – but lately I’ve also been doing these four new things.”
Now, very occasionally that’s really just the company trying to do “more with less” and the job is filling in for a colleague on leave or a reduction in size. But just as often it’s because new ideas, new innovations and new processes are taking over the marketing department – and there’s no reason or no ability (see the ‘occasionally’ above) to bring new people in to do it.
That’s the key. If the process of marketing is changing in your organization (and it probably is) your Day Job is NOT to do the same tired process over and over again while you dip in and wait for this “new thing” to pass. Your Day Job should be to continually learn and explore new ways and methods to carve out a FUNCTION of something you can be passionate about doing.
I’m reminded of the content marketing specialist I just met at a large Fortune 500. She was hired (her “day job”) as a “marketing manager” – working the e-mail newsletter system and tuning the marketing automation system. Her passion was writing. As the company started exploring a content marketing and social media program with a blog and social channels – she was tasked with a new thing: “find freelance writers and consultants” who could help.
Instead (more precisely in addition to doing what she was asked) she volunteered to learn on her own time about content marketing and blogging. She volunteered to manage the corporate blog and the social channels. Over the course of six months she became the resident expert on this new process. She inherited the process as “Editor of the Blog” and the “Social Media Manager”. The process changed, in part, because of her. She subsequently lost the job of managing the marketing automation system – and became the companies “content marketing” specialist – which is now a key piece of the overall marketing strategy and something she’s passionate about.
Remember, you’re in marketing. Your “Day Job” is to be innovative – and that includes innovating YOU.
99 Cents & Carve Out Some Innovation On Your Function
So, when I was in my early 20’s I quickly learned that the “day job” of being a Rock Star is NOT playing music. The job of being a Rock Star is sales and marketing. You spend 10-12 hours a day marketing and selling your product. The music? That’s part of the payment. That’s what you get to do as the fruit of the labor of your sales and marketing job. Every successful musician and actor I know is first and foremost an amazing marketer and sales person.
I hated that job. And so I quit. But here’s the thing – I didn’t hate the function. I hated the form. I didn’t give up on my dream job – which was to do four things:
- I wanted to write for a living (I thought the form of this was screenwriter)
- I wanted to get up on stage and entertain and inform people (I thought the form of this was musician)
- I wanted to help people get excited about their story and experience their joy at solving problems (I thought the form of this was teaching)
Guess what? 20 years later and I’m so blessed that I get to do my dream job – just in a very different form.
So, how can you start to carve out your own function over form?
Well let me hopefully add a very very small bit to that. CMI and my writing partner Joe Pulizzi are celebrating their five year business anniversary. Part of my “day job” is not only writing with Joe, but also running the consulting practice for CMI. In celebration of the Five Year Anniversary – Joe and I are offering up the Kindle Version of Managing Content Marketing for 99 Cents for the next 42 hours. For less than a buck – you can start carving out the new process of content marketing for your business.
John Lennon once said that “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. I actually operate from another point of view. My version is:
Your plan is what happens when you’re busy making your life.